Air ambulance helicopter blows cricket pitch cover into woman

A woman was treated in hospital after a cricket pitch cover was blown into her by an air ambulance helicopter.

She suffered a leg injury when the cover, which was mounted on wheels, rolled out of position due to the downwash of the aircraft landing on Bearsted village green near Maidstone, Kent on October 11 last year, according to a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

The two pilots in the cockpit of the AW169 helicopter, used by Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex (AAKSS), decided the field containing the cricket pitch was “the best option” to land to assist with an emergency 80 metres away.

After the medical crew left the aircraft, they were told about the woman struck by the cricket pitch cover.

They went to the initial incident they had been called to, while the woman was given first aid by the pilots for a cut to her leg, and was later taken to hospital.

Investigators warned that “downwash can be a significant risk, especially when operating in an urban environment”.

The report noted that the pitch cover was fitted with brakes, which were not applied.

The AAIB said in the wake of the “serious incident” the helicopter’s operator issued “enhanced guidance to pilots on the awareness of downwash”.

AAKSS said in a statement: “The safety of the public, our patients and our staff is always our highest priority and we fully support this investigation carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch into this incident.

“We take such matters very seriously and will continue to work closely with our regulators, our aviation partners and other partners, and the wider air ambulance and aviation community, to ensure the safest and highest possible standards in the delivery of our life-saving service.

“We welcome the action taken by our aviation partner following the incident and the learning from this report to help us to further safeguard against any future incidents.”